Protecting Children at a Distance: Investigating and strengthening child safeguarding and protection responses consequent upon COVID-19 lock-down/social distancing measures (Education, Communication and Society, KCL)

Contact: Jenny Driscoll

Email: jenny.driscoll@kcl.ac.uk

Department: School of Education, Communication & Society

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: TBC

Project duration: 13 weeks, ideally full-time but we can be flexible.

Closing date: 2nd August 2021

Expertise: Essential: Excellent and oral communication skills; Good IT skills; Desirable: Statistical analysis skills; an interest/experience in the use of creative technologies to create attractive and innovative resources .

Project description: This internship project will contribute to a project funded by the King’s Together: Multi & Interdisciplinary Research Scheme and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) Social Science Impact Fund (SSIF). The long-term aim of the project is to strengthen the ways in which organisations and agencies engaged in safeguarding and child protection work together, by learning from the challenges posed to multi-agency working by Covid-19. The study was designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures in England. In light of the challenges to intra- and inter-agency communication and the impact of actions taken by individual agencies, such as redeployment, on joint working, the study focuses on practitioner working and the multiagency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both strategically and operationally. It was granted ethical approval by the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee [LRS-19/20-19420] and has been deemed a service evaluation by participating NHS organisations. We have completed the first stage, comprising 67 interviews with service leaders/senior professionals in each of six disciplines involved in child protection (Children’s Social Care, Police, Education, Health, Mental Health and Law) and Safeguarding Partnerships (the tripartite leadership team charged with coordinating and delivering targeted services for children and families in each local authority area). Currently (November 2020) we are preparing the second stage, comprising a national survey of similar professional groups, which will focus on the lessons taken from the first lockdown to shape practice during and beyond the second lockdown. The aim is to share emerging good practice for multi-disciplinary working during the crisis and make recommendations on ‘future proofing’ the safeguarding system in England. We will do this through 4 partner organisations and 7 members of an Expert Reference Group.

Description of work involved: By the time the intern starts, we expect to have administered the survey and will be working on analysis, dissemination and impact. There will be some scope for the intern to choose activities of most interest to them, from the following: 1. Analysis of the survey data, leading to an article from the survey stage of the research. 2. Development of outputs and resources of direct utility to practitioners working with children and families and senior managers planning responses to ongoing disruption from Covid-19 measures. Resources will be developed in conjunction with partner organisations and the Expert Reference Group but are likely to include good practice sheets, case studies or podcasts for professionals. 3. Policy and advocacy work, including a short report for the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board and other interested parties and an advocacy video. 4. an article on the findings from the first stage of the project, arising from our conference presentation for the International Journal of Children’s Rights or otherwise.

Student benefits: The student will gain from: 1. Working with a larger team of researchers. We have a team of 3 staff from Education, Communication & Society, backed by expert partners from the Law Faculty (Professor Gillian Douglas, Dean) and IoPPN (Professor Andrea Danese) and external partners. 2. Academic writing practice and potential for publication. The multi-disciplinary nature of the project opens up varied opportunities for publications across disciplines. 3. Analysis of quantitative data sets and writing up the survey results 4. Developing skills in research impact activities. This project provides a unique opportunity for the intern to contribute to developing resources to inform current policymaking at national and regional level and to support practitioners as the effects of the pandemic on child safeguarding become clearer and as agencies develop medium to long term plans in response. Developing these skills is becoming ever more important for modern day researchers carrying out research with an explicit aim to change/adapt/develop policy and practice. 5. Collaboration with external agencies: The intern will liaise with our 4 partner organisations and Expert Reference Group. Partner Organisation are: the National Police Chief’s Council, Vulnerability, Knowledge and Practice Programme (reporting through the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board), The Children’s Society, The Association of Safeguarding Partnerships (TASP) and the Association of Child Protection Professionals (AoCPP). Our Expert Reference Group and Partner Organisations includes Professor Jenny Pearce, Simon Bailey (Chief Constable of Norfolk and National Safeguarding Lead for the Police), Dr Peter Green of the National Network for Designated Health Professionals, Martin Pratt, Director of Children’s Services at the London Borough of Camden, Sarah Hannafin of the National Association of Head Teachers and Hannah Parry of the Association of Lawyers for Children. 6. Networking and dissemination will be a central activity for the intern as we develop resources for practitioners and look to engage with policy-makers to maximise impact from the project.